"First Class Honeymoon" was one of the last episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents to air on the network as the half-hour series came to the end of its seven-year run. Unfortunately, the show, like the story on which it is based, is a rare miss for Henry Slesar.
"First-Class Honeymoon" was first published as a short story in the June 1961 issue of Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine. As the story opens, Edward Gibson is happy to be divorced from his ex-wife Gloria but unhappy to be paying alimony. His friend Karl Sebron pays a surprise visit to Edward's home. "The perennial collegiate," Sebron is dating Gloria, a situation that baffles Edward. Gloria "weighs too much, she's always sick and she talks your ear off," Karl admits. Karl tells Edward that he has gambling debts and offers to marry Gloria if Edward will pay him $10,000. Karl points out that Gloria's marriage would put a stop to Edward's alimony payments.
Edward agrees to Karl's plan and urges Karl to call Gloria right away and propose marriage. He makes the call and she accepts. Edward gives Karl the money and adds $500 for a first-class honeymoon. Later that day, Gloria's lawyer calls Edward to say that she died of a heart seizure the night before. Furious, Edward telephones Karl, only to learn that he has left the country on his way to St. Thomas. He told his maid that he was "going on a honeymoon."
Henry Slesar adapted his own story for television and it was broadcast as "First Class Honeymoon" on NBC on Tuesday, June 12, 1962. The copyright notice on the title card says 1961, so it may be that this mediocre episode was held until late in the season, when viewership was lower. The episodes before and after it are all copyright 1962.
The show is padded to fill out the time slot. It opens with Edward waking up alone in a twin bed in his beautiful Manhattan apartment. The other twin bed is empty and sheetless. Edward reviews his divorce decree and demonstrates joy by letting out an Indian war whoop, shadow-boxing, using the "Hers" towel in the bathroom to shine his slippers, and jumping on his ex-wife's mattress to wipe the bottom of his feet.
|Robert Webber and Marjorie Bennett|
as Mrs. Phelan
The show then picks up where the story left off with the arrival of Edward's friend, now renamed Carl Seabrook. He knows that Edward is paying $2000 per month in alimony. Edward mentions that Carl used to date an attractive brunette named Marian before he took up with Gloria. Edward takes $5000 from his safe and gives it to Carl, promising to get the other $5000 (plus an extra $500) the next day. This makes a bit more sense than the story, where we are never told how Edward happens to have so much ready cash available at a moment's notice.
|Jeremy Slate, Elaine Martone as Marian, |
and Kim Hamilton as the maid
"First Class Honeymoon" is directed by Don Weis without any particular distinction. The performances and especially the background music make it clear from the start that it is meant to be humorous (like other weak Slesar episodes, such as "The Right Price" and "Burglar Proof") but it falls flat. Robbert Webber, playing the role of Edward Gibson, does his best with the material, but Jeremy Slate, who was so good in Slesar's "One Grave Too Many," walks through his role, and the colorful characters of Edward's baseball-loving maid and the stuffy art dealer just seem added to fill out the time slot.
|Robert Webber and James Flavin as the doorman|
Playing Edward is Robert Webber (1924-1989), who was in movies and on TV from 1950 to 1989. He was a juror in 12 Angry Men (1957) and appeared many times on TV, including episodes of Thriller and The Outer Limits. He was on Alfred Hitchcock Presents three times, including "Burglar Proof" and "A True Account." A nice survey of his career may be found here.
Finally, John Abbott (1905-1996) was born John Kefford in London. His movie career began in 1936 and he started on TV in 1952. His voice and face were unmistakable and he appeared on Thriller and Star Trek, as well as on this single episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. To me, he always seems to portray characters who put on airs but have a core of seediness.
Note: In The Alfred Hitchcock Presents Companion, there is an error concerning this episode that has been continued online. In the 1980s version of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, an episode titled "Deadly Honeymoon" was broadcast on April 13, 1986. The title card says that it was based on a story by Henry Slesar, but that story was not "First-Class Honeymoon," as the plots are nothing alike. Instead, the teleplay was based on a radio play that Slesar wrote under the same title ("Deadly Honeymoon") for the CBS Radio Mystery Theater and which aired on January 24, 1974.
Slesar, Henry. "First-Class Honeymoon." 1961. A Crime for Mothers and Others. NY: Avon, 1962. 108-12. Print.
|Portrait of Gloria|
AN OVERVIEW OF THE HENRY SLESAR EPISODES ON ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS
Henry Slesar's contributions to Alfred Hitchcock Presents began in season three with "Heart of Gold" (10/27/57), which was adapted from a short story by Slesar. He had four stories adapted that season and four more in season four, with all of the teleplays being written by other writers.
He began adapting his own stories for the small screen in season five with "Forty Detectives Later" (4/24/60), but in that season he only adapted two of his five stories that were produced. In season six, he adapted ten of the eleven stories of his that were produced. One of the episodes ("The Horseplayer," 3/14/61) was directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Of those stories, three had not been published before airing. Season seven saw Slesar involved in thirteen episodes in all. He adapted eleven of his own stories for the screen (two had not been published before airing), he wrote a twelfth original teleplay, and his thirteenth contribution was to collaborate with Bryce Walton on adapting a story by J. W. Aaron.
The first four seasons of Alfred Hitchcock Presents may be viewed free online at Hulu.com. Seasons five through seven may be viewed for free online at YouTube. The first six seasons are also available on DVD from Universal. Season seven is not yet available on DVD.
In all, Henry Slesar was involved, either as writer of the short story or as writer of the teleplay, in thirty-seven episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, with twenty-four of those coming in seasons six and seven. His work was a major influence on the last two seasons of the half-hour series. As the series switched to the hour-long format in the fall of 1962, his contributions would change to suit the changing needs of the show.
Henry Slesar on Alfred Hitchcock Presents Episode Guide
Episode title-“Night of the Execution” [3.13]
Episode title-“On the Nose” [3.20]
Episode title-“The Right Kind of House” [3.23]
Episode title-“The Morning After” [4.14]
Episode title-“The Right Price” [4.22]
Episode title-“A Night With the Boys” [4.29]
Episode title-“Not the Running Type” [5.18]
Episode title-“Forty Detectives Later” [5.28]
Antenna TV is now running two episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents every night! Check the schedule here.
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Coming in two weeks: "I Saw the Whole Thing," directed by Alfred Hitchcock for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and starring John Forsythe and Kent Smith.
And, on Saturday, a special look at TV's Mob City!